A seaside city with a quaint medieval quarter right on the water, a well-serviced center, and miles of beaches, Nettuno provides a fun glimpse of an active and lived-in town year-round. Not just centered on summer beach activities, Nettuno is also a thriving town that is now under the administrative umbrella of Rome. There are lots of restaurants, cafes and shops, plus the timeless atmosphere of the medieval quarter, and the pretty, colorful marina.
The city is best-known for its modern history; it was the location of the Allied landing in Italy on January 22, 1944, in conjunction with an attack on the Gustav Line. The beach head landing was a success; however, the ensuing Battle of Anzio would be a bloody five-month campaign as they attempted to move toward Rome. The toll of the months of battles can be solemnly seen in the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery here in Nettuno, a soulful but beautiful park that is the resting place of 7,860 American soldiers who died in the campaigns to liberate Italy of the Nazis.
The city of Nettuno itself is quite lovely, and while it sustained bombing and bears many modern buildings, it also retains some pretty Liberty style villas, as well as gentile noble palaces. Nettuno had been under the domain of some of Rome's most influential noble families, including the Borgia, Borghese, Colonna, Orsini and Pamphilj. In fact, there is still a Palazzo Pamphilj owned by the family, and the Villa Borghese and Castello Borghese. The villa grounds are a nature preserve.
At the seafront you'll find the pretty medieval old town perched over the water, with the Sangallo Fortress still standing guard. Designed by Sangallo the Elder, it was built between 1501-1503 and now houses the Beachhead Landing Museum (Museo dello Sbarco) and Antiquarium, with artifacts from archeological finds around the area. The borgo medievale begins at the beautiful and powerful Fountain of Neptune in the piazza. Below the district is the marina, and beaches stretch out in both directions.
Nettuno was established in the 5th century BC as ancient Antium. It became a Roman playground, where emperors and elites had their sumptuous villas to get away from the city for a bit of beach and debauchery. Ruins are still visible in the area, most notably at the Torre Astura south of Nettuno and the beach at Anzio, where stone walls remains are clearly visible in the water. Antium expanded to the entire Cape of Anzio though the towns have been closely tied.
It's a nice outing, an easy one-hour train ride from Rome to reach it, where you'll be rewarded with a glimpse of Italian life in a vibrant seafront town.
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